Christopher Darden was brought in to give the O.J. Simpson prosecution team extra strength and a racial balance. His disdain for the defendant seemed real, his anger genuine, his motives strictly judicial. These same qualities give his first mystery a definite edge--honed by acollaboration with the excellent mystery writer and critic Dick Lochte. Like Darden, Nikki Hill has been sent to a prosecutorial purgatory--suburban Compton. She's then called back to downtown L.A. because the new black district attorney, Joe Walden, wants her race,plus her sex and brains, on his team following the death of a talk-show personality. The chiefsuspects are all African Americans.Nikki, the thirtysomething daughter of a cold and distant cop, is a veryinteresting character--burned out at work and still recovering from the loss of alover, but soft and human enough to take chances on both fronts. And she getssome strong support, especially from a wise old detective named Ed Goodmanwho has many of the qualities of the memorable Leo G. Bloodworth, theprivate eye in Lochte's Sleeping Dog. Her boss is a believablyconflicted bureaucrat; the bad guys--a powerful black music mogul, hismovie-star icon of a wife, their backup team of slick lawyers, street gangsters, crooked cops, and a world-class dirty trickster from Washington who describes himself as "a Stealth scumbag"--are eminently worthy opponents.The weird ending leaves much to be desired, but maybe next time thesetwo smart writers will fashion a stronger finale. Until then, you can enjoy Lochte's wonderful New Orleans mysteries: Blue Bayou and The Neon Smile.--Dick Adler
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Used availability for Christopher Darden's The Trials of Nikki Hill
March 1999 : USA Hardback
January 2001 : USA Mass Market Paperback
August 1999 : UK Paperback
April 1999 : USA Audio Cassette
February 2009 : USA, Canada Kindle edition